|Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill|
The rubber stamp that is the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal has approved 22 local council requests to increase rates above the 2.4 per cent rate peg, with Blue Mountains City Council to get its 40% increase or $456 extra over the next four years.
IPART chairman Dr Peter Boxall said all communities were consulted, but ignored.
IPART does not listen to ratepayer concerns as demonstrated when Wyong Shire Council applied to increase rates. Many ratepayers objected to no avail. A lot of homeowners were forced to sell up as they can no longer afford the exorbitant rates on top of their mortgages. It is just money grabbing on the part of councils supported by yet another government department
“We expect that councils have listened to their communities and considered their capacity and willingness to pay prior to applying to IPART. Councils are closer to their communities, and while IPART may approve a special variation, it is up to the councils to decide whether to implement it in full.”
The rate hike is because the council refuses to live within its means as a small regional population. The rate hike is to fund the annual operating costs of two extravagant Taj Mahal buildings - Labor's cultural centre in Katoomba and the Liberal's cultiuralcentre in Sprimgwood just completed.
They cost over a million dollars a year to run.
Consider the elitist salaries and perks paid to council management and note their flash top of the line cars, computers etc. Robert Stock was right - sack the lot and rehire.
So with these exorbitant rate hikes it is feared up to 40 Blue Mountains properties may be sold because the owners haven't paid their council rates.
At a Blue Mountains City Council meeting last week, a council spokeswoman told the gallery "up to 40" owners could face their properties being sold out from under them due to their failure to pay their rates.
The council was told 562 residents were currently overdue on their rates and had been "referred for legal recovery". Some $2.3 million is owed in rates fees with overdue accounts ranging from 1 cent to $30,000.
News of the 40 owners was uncovered when Liberal councillor Chris Van der Kley had asked: "How many of those 562 residents that are so far overdue ... how many of those ones are we about to take action to sell their properties?"
A council officer then told the gallery it was "in the order of less than 10 per cent but I've got staff checking the actual number for the [June] review... possibly up to 40".
The news came to light after Labor councillor Annette Bennett, voted in during the recent by-election, asked for a review of Council's Hardship Relief Policy which looked into assisting low income and pensioner ratepayers.
Clr Don McGregor said the report showed "few people actually avail themselves of the hardship provisions" adding "Katoomba particularly was suffering from a high level of mortgage stress".
Council was told outstanding rates money had decreased from $2.4 million owed back in 2002 and that 32,732 ratepayers [92 per cent] of the 35,738 ratepayers were up-to-date. Just under half of council's total yearly revenue comes from rates.
May be its time to disable council parking metres.